Today is International Bat Appreciation Day!
Did you know that 13 of the UK's 17 breeding bat species can be found on the Malvern Hills and Commons?
A variety of habitats here, including woodlands, provide the ideal feeding and hibernation sites for species including the rare Barbastelle and Bechstein's bats.
Many bat species need woodlands with a diverse, dense understory and the management of woodland son the Hills is essential. Removing non-native, invasive species such as laurel is an important part of this work.
Brought over from the Mediterranean and planted in gardens adjacent to the Hills by the Victorians, laurel has escaped and spread onto the lower slopes.
Due to its evergreen nature and ability to grow in shady places, laurel is outcompeting native woodland flora including bluebells and wood anemone. This growth also stops the natural regeneration of the woodland understory which reduces the diversity of the woodland and the wildlife it can support so staff and volunteers have been working to eradicate it.
The numbers of Barbastelle and Bechstein's bats have been declining in the UK due to the loss of deciduous woodland and the conservation of this habitat here is therefore of high importance.
Bats are now emerging from hibernation and as the weather warms up, now is the perfect time to see one of our bat species either in your garden or out on the Hills and Commons. Take a look up at the skies in dusk and you may see one.
Find out more about the UK's bats with the Bat Conservation Trust.